My four year old son loves (or is obsessed with rather) Thomas the tank engine. I mean, he's woken up in the morning and, rubbing sleep from his eyes, asked, "is the big train coming mommy?" And when he was having night terrors the only thing that soothed him was when I sang the opening song to Thomas and friends. "They're two they're four they're six they're eight... shunting trucks and Hauling Freight..." Its ingrained on my brain.
So needless to say, when grandma brought over a new Thomas and friends movie...well, there's no just watching it once! That's right! Over and over...
And *whispers* over.
Oh, and its a musical. Prayers are welcome. Haha, its not that bad.
Last night we were watching it. And in one scene, Thomas, the number 1 tank engine, is trying to escape from Hurricane and Frankie, two other engines who desire to keep Thomas against his will. Thomas puffs down a track that's kinda hidden in the trees and meets Merlin, a "stealth engine". (Poor Merlin is a prototype with three funnels, meant to make his steam disperse so he's not seen so easily. But it doesn't really work). But Merlin tells Thomas to just close his eyes and nobody will see him. So he closes his eyes and next thing you know its morning.
And, I thought hit me...( never watch a movie for the first time with me if I have already seen it. I watch the movie through the first time quietly...but the second go...I've got things to point out, questions that need answering...etc) the thought hit me...Thomas was there all night, and so was his driver, or engineer, the fireman, and perhaps the conductor? Let's say the conductor is there too, it helps my analogy. I thought to myself, "I guess they just hunker on down for the night too. because wherever Thomas is, they are too. He can't puff without them."
If you're familiar with Thomas and friends you understand what I'm talking about. All the engines do whatever they choose to do. The engines are in control of themselves, or so they seem. But no matter what they do, or where they go, even when they're in the woods for the night, they still have the engineer, fireman, and conductor inside them and can not go without them. The engines make up their own minds, much like we have free will, but they still can't Puff without their crew. They need that internal force. The engineer, the fireman, the conductor. We, like the engines, need our internal force, The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. See, that brave little conductor helped my analogy after all. No I don't think he's actually needed to run the steam engine, he works in the coaches, but he served a different purpose here today. I did say it was an odd analogy. I try to sound smart. Humor me.
John 15:15 tells us that apart from Him we can do nothing. We have the gift of free will (sometimes it seems like a curse right?) but He is always there inside us. Proverbs 16:9 says " the mind of a man plans his ways but the Lord directs his steps". Thomas and all the other engines go where they please and do as they please, it appears they are in control. But take away the crew that's always there inside them and an engine can't move. Apart from them, Thomas can do nothing. Apart from Him, we can do nothing. Through Christ we can do all things who strengthens us. Phillipians 4:13.
In one older episode of Thomas and Friends when the show was still made by filming actual model trains, Thomas got ahead of himself and thought he could move with out his crew. That didn't end well for Thomas.
Sounds familiar doesn't it? I will be bold and say that all of us at some point have gotten impatient waiting on God to move in one hand and did something on our own. And we end up making an awful mess don't we? I know I have. But you know what the good thing is about making mistakes? Its how you learn. Free Will allows us to make mistakes. It seems like such a horrible thing... why would God want us to be able to make mistakes and able to make big messes out of our lives? But Really it's not a horrible thing. It's a beautiful thing. We make mistakes and we learn and we grow. Imagine how boring life would be if we already knew everything and never made a mistake. Furthermore, if that was the case, we wouldn't need God. Oh my, wouldn't that be awful? I know life would be so meaningless without Him. ( so did Solomon
We need that internal Force directing our steps. We move where we want to move and we do what we want to do because we have the beautiful gift of free will. But like Thomas, we are not the ones ultimately in control.
( forgive the lack of proper flow here)
Once when I was thinking about what it means to be "used by God" and for God to be in control the enemy tried telling me, " used? You don't want to be used do you? Like you're just some puppet on strings". I rebuke you devil in the name of Jesus. That's not what it means for God to be in control. That's not what it means to be used. People can "use" us in the sense that they take advantage of us. But when God uses us it means we are an extension of Him. It's like when we take any kind of tool in our hands. Whether that tool is a hammer or a pair of scissors a pencil or jigsaw. The tool itself can do nothing on its own. A pencil cannot lift up and write freely of its own fruition. But when a person picks up a pencil they can then use it, direct it, ( as our steps are directed), and the words that we think inside our head can then be written on the page. The pencil, the tool in this scenario, becomes an extension of us because we are the force behind it. Anything we pick up and use becomes an extension of us. We cannot write on our own. We need a tool. We need a pencil or pen or even a stick, we can write in the sand with a stick. We can't do that on our own. And the tools, the pencils, the pens, the stick, whatever we pick up and use, cannot work without us.
What makes us different from a pencil or jigsaw or any other tool is that we don't lie there inanimate until we are picked up and used! We have that beautiful gift of free will. And naturally we have our intelligence so we are able to do a lot more then just lay there. but just because we wake up every morning and do our own thing does not mean we aren't being used by God or that he isn't in control. Romans 8:28 states that " he works all things together for the good of those who love him for those who are called according to his purpose". If that isn't control I don't know what it is.
I'll give you a prime example of this verse in effect.
My free will lead me to make my own choice and enter into a relationship, nearly eight years ago, with an abusive man. Despite that feeling in the back of my head that said " this isn't going to last very long", and in the grand scheme a person can live to be well over 80 so five years isn't that long, I did it anyway. Free will my friends. And I suffered. But some beautiful things came out of that suffering. A son and a daughter. I came to Christ because of that suffering. I am a new creation because of that suffering.
Free Will enabled me to make a choice. But God used the consequences of that choice for my good. I say consequences... because I was acting on my own will, my own desires. And because I went against feeling that told me not to enter into that relationship. I reckon a way to put it would be that I was chastised. But after five years, He reached in and pulled me out and so many beautiful things have come from that pain. I have God, my kids, and a love I can fully appreciate because of what I went through.
That is God in control.
We aren't in control. He is. Sometimes we get ahead of ourselves just like that cheeky little engine. Thomas got full of himself that one time and thought he could leave Tidmouth sheds on his own without his driver. He didn't make it very far. ( I think something happened like the driver left the break off so he rolled down the track a little bit. Thomas thought he was moving of his own volition but then he crashed). We can get a little prideful too, full of ourselves thinking we are in control and can do things better than God. I mean let's just hit at home where it counts. I mean we're all very good at exercising our free will. Amen? But this doesn't thwart God. He might sit back and let us have at it for a little while to teach us a lesson. But no matter how deep the mess we get into is, He can always pull us out. I know first-hand that He can reach in and pull you out of the ashes. Even when it's your fault you're there in the first place.
So if you've gotten prideful, giving yourself credit for everything you do and everything you have, humble yourself and remember God is the one in control. If your world is in chaos, and you're suffering from the decisions you have made, or from the way you have been treated, take heart and remember that God is in control. Even when we don't feel Him, even when we take Him for granted, He is still right there inside us, hunkered down for the night with us just like Thomas's crew the night he was hiding from Hurricane and Frankie. He is there in the valley and in the wilderness and on top of the mountain. Always with us. Always in control.
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